With the 2019-2020 school year well underway, we at the NEXT program, here at Northwestern College, are reflecting on what our students have achieved and are looking forward to what they will achieve in the coming year. As the newest member of the program, I am delighted to meet everyone and see the growth that has happened in only one academic year. Most students entering college will tell you they are feeling any mix of emotions from nervous to excited, fearful to overwhelmed. The NEXT students are no different! They are embarking on an incredible journey from high school to college and eventually independent living and careers. And we get the privilege of journeying with them!
John Menning, our Director, dreamed up the idea of a two year NEXT program in 2015 and launched a pilot program at the beginning of the 2016-2017 academic year with the first student. In May of 2018 the NEXT program graduated that student to resounding applause and cheering from the entire student body! Jon Schuiteman, a faithful volunteer, joined the team for the 2018-2019 academic year, along with 5 additional students. And finally, in August 2019 I joined the NEXT program along with three new students.
Each NEXT student lives in dorm – some with a roommate and some on their own. They eat in the cafeteria, participate in dorm life: including D groups, Coly Christmas Bash, Hosper’s Coffee Shop, North Suite Putt Putt, Fern Swap Meet, and the “Steggy Keggy”—a decorating competition complete with root beer floats!
Each student is enrolled in three NEXT Classes: Life Skills, Careers Class, and Wellness, in which we cover applicable topics pertaining to independent living and careers. NEXT students also audit classes from the course catalog, participating in class and completing assignments alongside their peers. I meet with each student and professor and together we discuss the assignments the student will complete, along with and needed modifications.
In addition, students are also encouraged to participate in campus activities and clubs. This year there are students in the Sign Language Club, on the Cheer Leading team, taking Guitar lessons, managing the Volleyball team, and singing in Choir! Our students are busy and ambitious and intent on getting the absolute MOST out of their college experience!
THIS IS THEIR TIME and they are LIVING WITH PURPOSE!
As we begin year four of the NEXT program, we are eager to see our students grow in independence, challenge one another and be challenged as they participate as active member of Northwestern’s Christian academic community. We on staff are eager to find ever new ways to help students as they pursue a Christ-centered education that will empower them to transition to independent living!